Start programming on Windows at no cost with Microsoft Visual Studio
If you are wanting to create programs to run on Windows, using the Microsoft tool is the obvious choice, and an expensive one you might expect. If you were to buy a full version of Visual Studio, you'd be right, but the Visual Studio Express 2012 programming tool is free and lets you write programs with Visual Basic, C# and C++.
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This download is only 913kB but the full install requires 4.43GB on your computer. Agree to the licence terms and conditions and click on Install. A couple of restarts were required to complete the installation.
There are several different versions of Visual Studio Express: Web, Windows 8, Windows Desktop and Team Foundation Server Express.
Visual Studio is an excellent product if you are learning to write programs to run on Windows. It has lots of tools such as the autocomplete and tooltips for objects that will save a huge amount of time while you are still learning the different programming languages.
If you have never done any programming before, it is probably a little too advanced and you would be better off making a start with Small Basic
Once installed, you can use Visual Studio Express 2012 for 30 days, after which you will need to register in order for it to keep working. There's no cost to registration but it does require more details than just an email address.
First impressions of Visual Studio Express 2012 are that it is now in the modern Windows Style with a clean san serif font for the menu titles. It keeps the interface clear at all times. In common with previous versions of Visual Studio, a big monitor will help handle all the information shown on screen.
The Welcome screen has links to more information and tutorials about the different programming tools and what's new in the 2012 edition. A full list of new tools in Visual Studio Express 2012 is available on the Microsoft website.
It's a long list but the most notable additions are the tools for building Windows Store apps and that code samples can be downloaded into Visual Studio.
All of these pages are on the Microsoft website but open in Visual Studio in tabs, which can be pinned in place as a useful reference.
One tool that we did like the look of is the marking on the left hand side when the code is changed. Lines changed but not saved are marked with yellow and then green after the changes are saved. Finding changes made during an editing session can be a real pain, so we're expecting that this change along will save us considerable time.
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An excellent and comprehensive programming tool
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